By the 1960s, it was unacceptable for a prime minister to sit in the House of Lords, so Home disclaimed his hereditary peerage and successfully stood for election to Parliament as Sir Alec Douglas-Home. The manner of his appointment was controversial, and two Macmillan Cabinet ministers refused to stay in office under him.
Sir Alec Douglas-Home was born in Mayfair, London, into an aristocratic family. He attended Eton College followed by Oxford University, where he graduated with a third class BA in Modern History.
Oct 05, 2021 · Sir Alec Douglas-Home, British foreign secretary from 1960 to 1963, prime minister from Oct. 19, 1963, to Oct. 16, 1964, and, after the fall of his government, Conservative opposition spokesman in the House of Commons on foreign affairs.
Alec Douglas-Home (1903-1995) devoted his career to British politics. Serving in the Parliament for many years, he became prime minister in November 1963 and remained in office until the Conservative Party lost the 1964 elections.
Alec Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, was a British ‘Conservative’ politician and a former prime minister of the United Kingdom. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, and achievements.
- Entered Public Service
- Flair For Foreign Policy
- Became Prime Minister
- Further Reading
After becoming aware of the poverty and unemployment near his ancestral home in Lanarkshire, Home decided to run for Parliament. He was not content to manage the family business affairs and did not feel that he was suited to the military. Although his father did not initially approve of this career choice, his mother came from a political family and supported his decision. Home failed in his first attempt, but was elected as a Conservative member from Lanarkshire in 1931. He felt that the Conservative Party would do more to end unemployment in Scotland than the Liberals. Britain, as well as the rest of the world, was locked in the grip of the Great Depression. After Home was returned to Parliament in 1935, he became first private secretary to ministers handling labor and Scottish questions. Neville Chamberlain, Chancellor of the Exchequer, asked Home to serve as his parliamentary private secretary in 1937. When Chamberlain replaced Stanley Baldwin as prime minister, Home was privy t...
Home had learned a great deal in his years close to prime ministers, especially with regard to foreign policy. In 1955, he became secretary of state for Commonwealth relations in Anthony Eden's government. Though the post was a minor one, Home was noticed when Eden fumbled in the Suez crisis of 1956. Home held the Commonwealth together through intense criticism. With regard to the question of Rhodesian independence, Home advocated a multiracial government, but was unable to convince the white minority government. When Harold Macmillan became prime minister in 1960, he gave Home the post of foreign secretary, expecting him to be easy to dominate. This turned out not to be the case. After his experience with appeasement in Chamberlain's government, Home became one of Britain's most forceful hard-liners against the Soviet threat. He supported a strong defense against Russia and felt that Britain must join the European Common Market. However, Macmillan acted as his own foreign minister...
When Macmillian became ill in October 1963, he maneuvered Home into the office of prime minister to avoid seeing it go to Rab Butler. This gave the appearance that Home was not democratically chosen by his party. He was forced to renounce his hereditary title and fight a nasty reelection battle in his home district. He returned to the House of Commons to give his first speech, after an absence of twelve years. The opposition, sensing his weakness, attacked him. Home also had to deal with television, which was a new media for him. His field of expertise was foreign affairs, not domestic policy. He served as prime minister for twelve months, when Harold Wilsonand the Labor Party won the general elections of 1964 by a slim margin. After it was over, he reflected that he had a lot to learn in the craft of leadership. He had tried to lead in a straightforward manner, but felt that his term was a little like Daniel being thrown into the lion's den. Home vowed to change the way party leade...
Butler, Lord, et. al., The Conservatives A History from their Origins to 1965,George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1977. Cold War 1945-1991,Gale Research, 1993. Contemporary Authors Online,Gale Group, 1999. Home, Alec Douglas-Home, Lord, The Way the Wind Blows, William CollinsSons & Co Ltd, 1976. Young, Kenneth, Sir Alec Douglas-Home,J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1970. □
Why Famous: Alec Douglas-Home became Prime Minister unexpectedly in 1963 when Harold Macmillan resigned in the wake of the Profumo affair. To do this Douglas-Home, then sitting in the House of Lords, had to reject his peerage and win a by-election in order to enter the House of Commons.